Sennheiser HD-280 Pro Review
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Ghost Hog

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first thing i would say about the sennheiser headphones is their craftsmanship, they are very well-built. engineered in germany and assembled in ireland--what a beautiful team! if you hold these cans in your hands and take a close look you will find detailed characteristics of professionalism over all them. starting with the headband made with a very soft pleather that applies no pressure on your head to the earpads of similar material that fully encompasses your ears blocking out unwanted noise and keeping the music inside, you will appreciate the level of design and commitment that went into these headphones. the cord is a durable spring-type with a gold plated 1/8" plug that can be attached to an adapter for phone jacks. clasp pressure is medium, i find no problems with them. i have these for nearly a year and so far there's been no physical problems with them in any way.

the HD-280 pro is a closed back design, so the compromise here is the lack of soundstage or that feeling of dimensionality. what you get is just that left/right/center image inside your head. they are monitor headphones and they are loud! you won't need to crank up the volume with these cans, chances are you might want to turn it down a bit. excellent for dj's in clubs or working in noisy environments. they cancel out noises pretty well, and with the volume level so high you will get good isolation for your music listening. the HD-280 pro is also collapsible, you can fold them up to conserve space. pretty cool.

my set-up: a mackie 1402 VLZ mixer with preamp that i plug my HD-280 pro into directly. the source of music comes from my notebook with an echo soundcard that connects to the mixer. Everything goes to the mixer before hitting the senns so the mixer acts as a neutralizer.

bass: somewhat elusive but well defined. i find if i wear the phones and rest my head back the bass hits hard and comes thru strong. when i pull my head straight again that bass fades a bit. a very strange phenomenon. i would say the bass is not exaggerated unlike sonys or some beyers. this may sound unappetizing for those who want gonad-shaking bass vibrations, well you ain't gonna get it the HD-280. what you will get is a defined, tight, and well behaved bass response.

Mid: these cans are best for pop music or even classical. sennheisers have a legacy with making excellent headphones for classical music listening so be aware of this when you make your purchase. the mids are slightly elevated around the 2Khz to 6Khz, giving forward presence to vocals, strings, guitar, and piano. but this is not to say that it is colored, in fact, i find it rather neutral. there is no audible distortion in this range.

Highs: nicely controlled tho at times slightly hot. i cannot say the highs are "creamy" like i describe the grados, and i cannot say the highs are "breaking-up" like the sonys, and i cannot say that the highs are like "needles" like the beyers. so the senns kind of sit somewhere in the midst of all this. to my taste, the highs are rather lacking some kind of spark, they are there but they are missing soul. tho they will give a clean sound they make it dispassionately. you will hear the music and the sound but you will also search rather hard to find the personality of these cans. in that sense, the HD-280 is kind of empty.

Detail: this proves to be the HD-280 pro's weakness link. i am rather disappointed. on recording that i compared with my grado and sony, the HD-280 came in last in this respect. the grados beat the competition with producing the highest degree of detail, then sonys, and finally the HD-280. I compared it with my grado SR-80 and my sony MDR-7506. on a classical recording of mozart's opera abduction of seraglio i can hardly hear the harmonics of the violins with the HD-280 but with the sony i can and with the grado everything materialized before my ears with profound clarity.

In conclusion i think the sennheiser is a very good pair of headphones and it definitely can handle the job. if you want maximum detail for reference purposes etc, you should think twice about the HD-280 pro. if you want a durable well-crafted pair of phones for multi purpose listening they will deliver good results.
 
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Abula

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Thanks for the review.

How would you compare them with your 7506 in all areas?
 
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daycart1

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THanks for the report!

There has been a lot of talk here about how the 280s need a particularly long break in period. Did you experience that?
 
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kumarjunior

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I needed a good pair of full-size phones for listening to rock and rap. I bought the hd280s, and i've only had them for a few days. They are my first pair of high-end headphones. How do they compare to other headphones for that?
 
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moogoob

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One thing I might add about the 280s: they handle equalization well. For general listening, I recommend a slight dip in the mids, seasoning the sound to taste.

I actually find them slightly more detailed than the Denon D1001s, but the Denons have a somewhat better sound signature when your EQ is off.
 
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iainw

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For me the best thing about these headphones is the isolation from external noise!

I wouldn't use them but for in noisy environments as - as the good review notes - they lack detail.

I certainly agree that they need a VERY long burn-in period (perhaps 250 hours). I couldn't stand them when I got them but now the sound seems to have warmed a little and are far more listenable
 
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kjfarley

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I sold the 7506s that came with my presonus interface after comparing them with my hd280s. the senns were much more musical in my opinion.
 
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yklee118

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For my two cents.  I still love my Sennheiser HD280-Professional.  I have owned this since 2001 and with confirmed driver revisions (after 2001 there has been two revisions) I feel that the first version of the HD280-Professional (2001 to 2004 - Sennheiser Deutschland) is the best sounding of studio monitoring and long-term listening headphones.  Sound stage presentation, instrument separation, mid-range smoothness, treble extension, and bass extension is great.  I am speaking from experience as I have tried listening without amplification and I can say that some of those rather critical remarks about the HD280-Pro being bad sounding is somewhat true.  Once amplified properly however, the sonic character changes to something more toward the Sennheiser HD650 and AKG K701.  Smoothness and a little bit of warmth is introduced whereas without an amp, the sonic character is lean and somewhat flat/lifeless.  
 
Comfort is another issue that many cite as uncomfortable or torture.  That is a little bit extreme.  At first it was uncomfortable, but I decided to use my soccer ball (to the rest of the world is Football which is a true statement) and put the headphone on it to stretch it out a bit.  Afterward, the HD280-Pro was much more comfortable.  The clamping force is still present but not to the point that it becomes uncomfortable.  The clamping force is actually necessary to facilitate a good seal around the ears to provide the closed headphone sensation of isolation.  Isolation is another selling point of the Sennheiser HD280-Professional.  I have listened to the Sony MDR-7506 and the Qualia series.  While the comfort level is lighter and easier to deal with, the isolation and overall sonic character is not what I would define as smooth.  More like edgy especially when either a desktop or portable headphone amplifier is used.  With the exception of the Qualia headphone, the MDR7506 is a headphone with a precision sonic character with not much warmth.  If resolution and clear instrument separation is what is sought after, I recommend the Sony MDR-7506.  For overall musicality, smooth tonal response, and clear sound stage presentation with good instrument separation, then I recommend the Sennheiser HD280-Professional.
 
This is my two cents 
 
Everybody have a great weekend and stay well.
 
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